A change in the Hays USD 489 school board’s next meeting will usher in work-study sessions for the first meeting of each month.
Instead of meeting for a regular business meeting on Aug. 5, the board will meet the following evening, which was already scheduled as a goals and expectations session with Gary Sechrist, leadership services field specialist with the Kansas Association of School Boards.
That session will still take place and will be open to the public. It will begin at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 6 in the Toepfer Board Room of the Rockwell Administration Center, 323 W. 12th, where the board normally meets.
The change was proposed by Superintendent Ron Wilson, who started on the job at the beginning of this month.
“The new guy brings in changes,” he said in proposing the work-study sessions at Monday night’s regular board meeting.
“This is a change, I know, from what has been done in the past. I just feel like especially with me being new, it allows us to talk a little more and try to talk about some things going on in our district and maybe refocus some things,” Wilson said.
“We’ll spend considerable amount of time talking and discussing certain functions that are going on, plus we can maybe dig into some things that we’re looking at coming up in the following meetings,” he said.
“Especially in this first year, I have lots of topics I want to dig into, and we have some experts out in the field that we can bring them in and spend the day or evening talking about, whether it’s special ed, whether it's finance, whether it's maintenance/custodial. It could be a whole slew of topics that each month we spend a considerable chunk of our meeting time on,” he said.
The board could still take action if needed during the work session.
“I think the only reason we ever changed it in the past was to approve bills, if I remember right,” board member Luke Oborny said. “So as long as we would still have that ability to approve bills or take action on something if the timeline needed, I’m not against it. I think it would be fine.”
“I do like the process we’ve developed where we have an issue brought up to us one meeting, and then we have a chance to think about it, and then pass a motion at the next meeting. If we could still work that into the system,” Board President Mike Walker said.
“I don’t think that would change whatsoever,” Wilson said.
Walker said the board could “give it a shot,” and if it didn’t work, could go back to the regular business meeting format.
Board member Sophia Rose Young asked how the topic of each work session would be determined.
“That’s probably going to be a topic on our Aug. 6 session on goals and expectations,” Wilson said. “I’m going to take suggestions. It’s probably going to be a bit of a brainstorming session. I’ll probably set up a schedule and we can talk about if that works for everyone.
“We don’t get the chance to brainstorm as much, and I feel like the work-study session will allow us to spend more time doing that,” he said.
The board generally meets twice a month. On the 2019-20 calendar, only one meeting is scheduled in the months of December, May and June.
Walker also said he and Wilson will try to meet at least every other week, if not weekly, on Fridays to discuss issues and shape the agenda for the following meeting. He invited other board members to let him know if there were topics the pair could discuss.
“I want to be more involved as a president with the superintendent,” Walker said.